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Netanyahu (L) and Putin this month in Moscow. Photo: Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected Russian President Vladimir Putin's proposal to organize a summit with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Moscow because he didn't want to undercut President Trump's forthcoming Middle East peace plan, according to Israeli officials.

Why it matters: Netanyahu and Abbas haven't met since September 2010. This is the second time Netanyahu has rejected such a proposal from Putin, after another offer in September 2016. Putin's new attempt to inject himself into the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is a challenge to the Trump administration, which has been working on a peace plan for the last 18 months. The White House "peace team," which is being boycotted by the Palestinian leadership, still hasn't decided if and when to launch its proposal.

On Monday Netanyahu met with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, who arrived in Israel for talks on Syria.

  • Russian diplomats and Israeli officials said Lavrov also discussed with Netanyahu the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. According to the Russian diplomats, Lavrov briefed Netanyahu on the recent meeting Putin had with Abbas in Moscow.
  • Lavrov told Netanyahu that Putin had proposed a Moscow summit to Abbas, and that Abbas said he is willing to attend such a meeting, the Russian diplomats said.
  • Lavrov asked Netanyahu if he would be willing to attend such a meeting. Israeli officials said Netanyahu told Lavrov he is not against such a meeting in principle, but doesn’t want to organize such a meeting in Moscow before the Trump administration launches its peace plan.
  • "I want to see the U.S. initiative through", Netayahu told Putin, according to the Israeli officials.

Go deeper

Trump grants flurry of last-minute pardons

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty

President Trump issued 73 pardons and commuted the sentences of 70 individuals early Wednesday, 11 hours from leaving office.

Why it matters: It's a last-minute gift to some of the president's loyalists and an evident use of executive power with only hours left of his presidency. Axios reported in December that Trump planned to grant pardons to "every person who ever talked to me."

Trump revokes ethics order barring former aides from lobbying

Photo: Spencer Platt via Getty

Shortly after pardoning members of Congress and lobbyists convicted on corruption charges, President Trump revoked an executive order barring former officials from lobbying for five years after leaving his administration.

Why it matters: The order, which was signed eight days after he took office, was an attempt to fulfill his campaign promise to "drain the swamp."

  • But with less than 12 hours left in office, Trump has now removed those limitations on his own aides.

Trump pardons former GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy

President Trump has pardoned Elliott Broidy, a former top Republican fundraiser who pleaded guilty late last year to conspiring to violate foreign lobbying laws as part of a campaign to sway the administration on behalf of Chinese and Malaysian interests.

Why it matters: Broidy was a deputy finance chair for the Republican National Committee early in Trump’s presidency, and attempted to leverage his influence in the Trump administration on behalf of his clients. The president's decision to pardon Broidy represents one last favor for a prominent political ally.